After two years and the end of many COVID-19 related restrictions, the world is welcoming the return of theater, movies, comedy, music and in-person sports. This has led some to wonder what will become of the legions of digital creators who have kept us busy and entertained while normal life has come to a standstill – and the multi-billion dollar economy they inhabit.
Will the world forget the platforms and artists they discovered during the pandemic now that the doors of festivals, fashion shows and concerts are open to them again? The creator economy, which, according to recent estimates, to go past $100 billion this year, strong enough to withstand a rush of real-life experiences?
I firmly believe that. Government restrictions may have accelerated the pace of change, but the transformative trends in video streaming we have witnessed during the pandemic were nascent before and would have taken hold regardless.
And, while I claim no deep background in macroeconomics, I am a technologist who has spent several years working in and around one of the most transformative new technologies to emerge in decades: blockchain. It is the technology that will completely reshape digital life, boosting the economy of creators.
Related: Decentralization is revolutionizing the creator’s economy, but what will it bring?
Perform on a digital stage
The forced downturn has given many artists the time — and the impetus — to experiment in the digital sphere, find new audiences, and explore new ways to showcase their talents.
Even musicians who might never have seriously considered streaming a live concert have taken to the digital stage. And, there is evidence that this will continue. Take singer Dua Lipa, who broke paid livestream recordings with 2020’s Studio 2054 concert. Initially reluctant, Dua Lipa decided to go the livestream route after being forced to postpone an album tour. That turned out to be a good call: her digital appearance garnered over five million views worldwide.
A survey by Middlesex University and funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council show that around 90% of musicians and 92% of fans believe that live streaming would remain an effective way to reach fans who are unwilling or unable to travel to venues in the post-pandemic world. Providers should take note: the study also found that audiences do not expect free access to live music and are not particularly put off by paywalls.
The surge of creative energy also inspired the developer community. New niche streaming platforms have sprung up, aided by the emergence of low-cost, decentralized infrastructure that allows app makers to encode video, store data, and manage identity without having to pay expensive centralized cloud providers for such services.
Related: Music in the metaverse creates social and immersive experiences for users
These centralized providers will increasingly find themselves on the defensive. Two high-profile incidents in 2021 illustrate this: Hackers attacked Twitch and leaked private information about its code and users to the world. Additionally, Facebook has suffered colossal damage to its reputation from a long outage and a whistleblower says its management has repeatedly chosen to prioritize profit over safety.
What happens afterwards?
Big Tech’s woes and pandemic restrictions have accelerated fundamental changes already underway in the way the world produces, consumes and uses video content – changes that could propel the growth of the creator economy into the future. And, given the growing availability of low-cost, decentralized blockchain infrastructure, these emerging players have a chance to pose a serious challenge to FAANG-managed streaming providers.
Blockchain will accelerate the growth of the creator economy in five ways and help solidify it as a central force in culture and entertainment around the world:
Exclusivity: Secure access to non-fungible tokens (NFT) and NFT ticketing are just two of the decentralized tools that enhance the digital experience for spectators: NFT tickets limit scalping while providing attendees with a unique souvenir, while token management supports unique experiences for fans. such as access to private groups and direct messaging with creators.
Fan property: The Web3 era is defined by the shift from extracting value for tenants to increasing value for owners. Just as blockchain allows fans to engage directly with their favorite creators, it provides a route to asset ownership in individual creator economies outside of traditional centralized platforms.
Low cost streaming: Video streaming accounts for over 80% of Web2 Internet traffic and counting. Developers, eager to grab a slice of this market without being crushed by high costs, are increasingly looking for affordable blockchain-based infrastructure to support creator streams. With their new ability to attract global audiences via on-demand access streams everywhere, creators are turning to unique Web3 features such as tips, paid entries and live purchases to monetize their content.
Immersive interactivity: The one-way nature of Web2 publishing is already giving way to immersive interactivity that rewards users for their participation. With the ability to record immutably and securely on the blockchain, creators can encourage interactions without sacrificing privacy.
Niche down: While Web2 was designed to evolve, Web3 is designed to nest. With its lower cost, increased security and resistance to censorship, blockchain makes it possible to build micro-communities serving smaller niches than would be economically viable in Web2. It’s a fundamental change that not only gives creators control, but also makes communities less appealing to attention-seeking trolls.
The stage is set for creative activity to flourish, and those about to do so will be aided by a decentralized infrastructure.
Related: The Metaverse will change the live music experience, but will it be decentralized?
Digital creatives have always recognized that they need to be agile to succeed. Now there is technology that will allow them and their analog peers to reach new audiences on their own terms without having to cede power or profit to tech giants like Google and Amazon.
My faith in the ability of musicians, gamers, influencers and creators to adapt to the new realities ahead — and thrive in them — has never been stronger.
The economy of creators? The clue is in the name.
This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should conduct their own research when making a decision.
The views, thoughts and opinions expressed herein are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.
Doug Petkanics is co-founder of Livepeer, where the team is building a decentralized live video streaming platform to enable the next generation of video streaming. Prior to Livepeer, Doug was co-founder and CEO of Wildcard, a mobile browser. He also co-founded Hyperpublic, which was acquired by Groupon. He was vice president of engineering at both.